The 2020-21 Indiana University men’s basketball season is right around the corner. To help get you ready, The Daily Hoosier is profiling every scholarship player on the IU roster. Indiana’s season is expected to begin on Nov. 25.
Each of the last two seasons have felt like years where we were anxiously awaiting the chance to see what Jerome Hunter could do.
And due to circumstances out of his control, here we sit in year three still waiting.
Hunter lost his freshman season due to a lower leg condition, and he spent the 2019-20 campaign working his way back after a year away from the game.
This time around Hunter should be ready to go. What can Hoosier fans expect from the one-time four-star, top-60 recruit?
Let’s take a look.
- Height: 6-foot-7
- Weight: 215
- Position: Forward
- Class: Redshirt Sophomore
- Hometown: Pickerington, Ohio
- High School: Pickerington North
- Minutes per game: 14.4
- Points per game: 3.8
- Rebounds per game: 2.1
- Assists per game: .3
- Blocks per game: .2
- Steals per game: .4
- FG%: 35.0%
- 3FG%: 30.2%
- FT%: 75.0%
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Head coach Archie Miller on Hunter —
“He is going to play a big role on this team,” Miller said. “He has to play a big role. He has to grow up as a second-year player and become much more of a consistent shooter and a more consistent defender.”
Hunter on getting a year under his belt —
“Playing last year helped,” Hunter said. “It gave me the experience I needed. This year I can really make an impact and make the team better. You have to be mentally tough. The season is long. You have to be prepared for every game, make sure everybody is ready and on the same page.”
Jerome Hunter is hitting BIG shots for Indiana.
3-pointers this season entering today: 6
3-pointers this afternoon: 3 pic.twitter.com/HLp1ywOA3P
— CBS Sports CBB (@CBSSportsCBB) January 26, 2020
WHAT 2020-21 SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE
Let’s start with numbers you have likely seen before.
Most think of Hunter first and foremost as a three-point shooter, and the story with his redshirt freshman season was the trendline. Hunter made 14.2 percent from distance the first 18 games, and 42.8 percent the last 14. Let’s just put it out there — if Hunter can become a high-volume three-point shooter above 40 percent he his going to be a major weapon on this team.
The real questions with Hunter’s redshirt sophomore season center around everything else. Can he help you offensively in other ways? What positions can he guard? Can he become more of a presence on the defensive end and as a rebounder?
The move to a smaller, more up-tempo offense is intriguing when it comes to Hunter. If he is physically strong enough to guard most power forwards, Hunter seems like an optimal modern stretch-four to pair with three guard sets to put four shooters on the court. He could also be used on the wing as a small forward, but how Hunter matchups up defensively in those scenarios might dictate his usage at that spot. But whether Indiana is going big or small, Hunter will potentially have a role because of his versatility.
The other aspect of Hunter’s game that we’ll take a wait-and-see approach vis-a-vis playing on the wing is his development attacking off the dribble and facilitating teammates.
Hunter became too much of a spot-up shooter last year, rarely looking to score in other ways and ranking near the bottom of the team in both assist and turnover rate.
A better version of Hunter this year is a true dual-threat to shoot or drive, and to have good vision and ball security when he puts it on the floor.
Hunter’s 2020-21 stat line might be the hardest to project on the team. We could see anything from something similar to his last 18 games of 2019-20, to a true breakout season. We won’t be surprised if he splits the difference and posts something along the lines of 22 mpg, 8 ppg, 3 rpg, 1 apg, .8 spg, .5 bpg, 1.5 tpg, 44 fg%, and 38 3fg%.
Hunter should start the season in much better physical condition which should help him to become more aggressive and disruptive as a defender from the jump. He has really good length, and is athletic enough to more than hold his own. The hope is that Hunter can shift from being reactive to more instinctive with the various help concepts and other pack-line principles.
With his stamina built back up and the confidence of having a year under his built, we are anxious to see if Hunter is ready to fully engage and become a high impact, high energy defender and rebounder.
MORE 2020-21 PREVIEWS
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